15 YEARS OLD, USA
… is a scientist and the first ever TIME Magazine’s ‘Kid of the Year’. Gitanjalihas developed various tools to detect the amount of lead content in water, to help the early diagnosis of prescription opioid addiction, and to counter cyberbullying. Gitanjali developed a problem-solving methodology, which she has socialized to over 50,000 students around the world, including in Afghanistan and refugee camps.
Photo credits: Sharif Hamza / TIME
16 YEARS OLD, PERU
… founded the ‘Banco del Estudiante Bartselena’, a bank for children and the environment, at the age of 7. With the recyclable waste that his children customers pick, they earn money on their bank accounts in order to pay for their food or school tuition. Jose’s initiative won UNICEF’s International Prize in 2014 and the Children Climate Prize in 2018. To date, 2,500 children aged between 7 and 18 have used this bank to buy food and/or study, and 4,000 more are in the process of being enrolled.
26 YEARS OLD, SOUTH SUDAN
… developed ‘Salaam’, a video game which allows players to adopt the role of a refugee who must flee falling bombs, find water and gain energy points to ensure the character’s survival as the player’s country journeys from a war-torn present into a peaceful existence. Through inapp purchases, players support NGOs working on the ground to provide refugees living in camps with basic necessities. As a newborn in his parents’ arms, Mayen endured a 225-mile trek from his war-torn home in South Sudan to a refugee camp in Northern Uganda. He now lives in the United States, where he also founded a foundation to train refugees and provide them with game development skills.
Photo credits: 1) Catie Dull/NPR – 2) Lual Mayen
23 YEARS OLD, PHILIPPINES
… is the founder of The Cacao Project, an initiative that provides farmers in the Philippines with cacao plant seedlings and teaches them how to responsibly and sustainably produce cacao. The project aids reforestation efforts has helped with the revival of two water sources from increased water retention in soil, has planted 70,000 trees, and trained over 200 farmers. She was recognized as a Young Champion of the Earth 2019 by UNEP and by Forbes in its ‘30 under 30’list.
22 YEARS OLD, FRENCH POLYNESIA
… founded ‘Coral Gardeners’, an association is revolutionizing ocean conservation and generating a collaborative action to restore the reefs of Moorea, French Polynesia, and beyond. As a child of the ocean, Titouan knew something had to be done to save the lungs of the ocean and the future of our marine ecosystems when he was 20. The association has three main missions: raise awareness, restore and innovate. To date, more than 15,000 corals have been replanted.
21 YEARS OLD, KENYA
… developed a ground-breaking app called ‘iCut’, together with a group of four other young Kenyan girls called ‘The Restorers’. The app allows girls who are facing imminent FGM to alert the authorities by clicking a distress button on their mobile phone. It makes it easier for young women to seek help and find a rescue center.